Promising carbon material can act as power reservoir

September 17th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) A breakthrough in use of ‘grahpene’, a single-atom thick, carbon-based material, will make massive storage of wind power and solar energies possible.Texan University researchers believe the breakthrough could double the capacity of existing ultracapacitors (which store electric energy) made out of a different form of carbon.

Some advantages of ultracapacitors over traditional batteries include higher power capability, longer life, a wider thermal operating range, lighter, more flexible packaging and lower maintenance, said Rod Ruoff, a mechanical engineering professor and a physical chemist.

“Through such a device (capacitor), electrical charge can be rapidly stored on the graphene sheets and released from them as well for the delivery of electrical current and, thus, electrical power,” he said.

Ruoff’s team includes graduate student Meryl Stoller and postdoctoral fellows Sungjin Park, Yanwu Zhu and Jinho An, all from the mechanical engineering department and Texas Materials Institute at the University.

This technology, Stoller said, has the promise of significantly improving the efficiency and performance of electric and hybrid cars, buses, trains and trams. Even devices like office copiers and cellphones benefit from the improved power delivery and long lifetimes of ultracapacitors, he said.

Ruoff and his team prepared chemically modified graphene material and using several types of common electrolytes, have constructed and electrically tested graphene-based ultracapacitor cells.

Their findings will be published in Oct 8 edition of Nano Letters and went online on the journal’s website this week.

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